by Ron Dick, CVC Elder and member of the CVC Generous Life Team
As you have most likely heard, Congress recently passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security act (CARES) which, among other things, will provide financial relief up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child under age 17 to those who qualify. You can learn more about the CARES act here. As people have started receiving their funds, I have received many questions regarding how to best use the money.
The specific answers I give may vary depending on where the person falls on the spectrum of personal finances. However, the one constant I share with everyone is “No matter what you do with the money, you should honor God.” Why do I say that? One of my favorite verses in the Old Testament comes from King David as he is praying in anticipation of the temple being built:
“But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.”1 Chronicles 29:14
For David, everything in life was about God. He believed it all came from God and belonged to God. He understood he was a steward, entrusted to manage the resources given to him, not for his benefit, but for God’s benefit. David’s purpose was to honor God with all that he had. Following his example, we should do our best to honor God with what we have, whether that’s a little or a lot.
Here are some ideas for honoring God with your stimulus payment based on where you are along the spectrum of personal finances:
Are you struggling or in a financial crisis?
If you are currently out of work or underemployed and do not have enough resources to meet your obligations, life can seem scary right now. However, if you trust in God and His truth you can move from a place of fear to a position of faith. Read 20 Ways to Apply God’s Truth to Your Financial Crisis if you need Biblical guidance beyond ideas for your stimulus payment.
- Give. (2 Corinthians 8:2-3) We see the church of Corinth who, in a test of affliction and severe poverty, was generous out of an “abundance of joy.” No matter how much or how little, being outwardly focused on blessing and serving others brings us joy in the midst of crisis.
- Take care of your family and prioritize your spending. (1 Timothy 5:8) Start with the “four walls” essentials: food, utilities, shelter, and transportation. After that, prioritize your expenses from most important (such as medical or insurance) to least important (unsecured debt such as credit cards) and pay them in that order.
Are you stable but living paycheck to paycheck?
If you are meeting your monthly obligations but there is no margin for you to do anything else, it can sometimes feel like you are walking a tightrope with no net. Here are some ideas for you to relieve some of your anxiety using your stimulus payment.
- Give. (Luke 16:10-11) Be faithful with what God has given to you and honor Him. God does not need your money, but He does want your heart. Giving with an open hand to God’s purposes will move your heart towards Him and increase your faith.
- Start an emergency savings account. (Proverbs 21:20) While it may seem emotionally hard to do, having an emergency fund gives you a cushion for when life happens. With no margin, a small emergency can quickly turn into a larger problem. Consider setting aside $500-$1,000 in a separate account. Do not be tempted to use it for anything less than a true emergency.
- Pay off debt. (Proverbs 22:7) While the Bible never calls debt a sin, it discourages and equates it with being in bondage and a curse. Anyone who’s had a lot of debt will heartily agree. After you give some and fund an emergency savings account, consider applying the remainder towards debt. In most cases, I suggest paying them from smallest to largest as studies show that this method pays off debt more quickly.
Are you financially solid?
If you can comfortably pay your bills, have little to no debt, a healthy savings account, and your income is reliable, I want you to think outwardly. People who categorize themselves as “solid” may be tempted to spend this “free money” on a splurge item they normally might not have bought previously. I encourage these folks to be more outwardly focused on helping others and meeting real needs.
- Give. (Proverbs 11:25) God blesses generosity and exclaims in scripture “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched…” The wisdom here is that God may provide more to those who are faithful to manage money for His purposes but He will definitely provide you with joy as your giving aligns with His will.
- Pay off debt. (Deuteronomy 28:43-45) If the Bible says debt is a curse and you become a slave, free yourself. If you have the resources already, I encourage you to pay off your debt today and use your stimulus check to be a blessing to others in need.
Are you blessed with surplus?
If you have abundant resources which meet both your wants and needs, chances are you may not need your stimulus check or may even make too much money to qualify for receiving one. However, I still have guidance for you.
In 2015, CVC Pastor Joe Valenti preached a message entitled, “Get Fit: Financial Fitness.” During the message he asked a question which resonates with and challenges me to this day: “When’s the last time you stretched your giving to the point of faith?”
This made me reflect on what sacrificial giving truly meant. There are people who do not believe in God, nor accept Jesus Christ as their savior, yet they have an abundance of wealth and possessions. Some are even generous in donating to worthy causes. However, they are not rich toward God. Thus, I learned it isn’t about what you have, but about how you use it…for God!
Pastor and author, Andy Stanley explains in his book How to Be Rich, “Generosity helps us make a concerted effort to keep the needs of others in the forefront of our thinking. Rich people should not feel guilty, but we should feel responsible. We are called to be good stewards of the resources we have been privileged to manage.”
Thus, my encouragement to those who fall in this category whether they received a stimulus check or not:
- Give. (Luke 12:48) Give radically. Give anonymously. Challenge yourself to give more sacrificially. Support your church while the building is shut down and fewer people are giving. Give to people who are hurting or in financial crisis. Support businesses that are struggling and tip generously to places that are still open. Donate supplies or resources to those on the front lines in this pandemic. Most importantly, be uncomfortably bold in doing these good deeds in the name of Jesus Christ, the One who gives a supernatural hope and new life to those that trust Him as Lord and Savior.
The Generous Life ministry at Cuyahoga Valley Church provides opportunities for people to learn about and live a blessed life by embracing biblical financial and stewardship principles in order to become a Christ-centered steward who gives generously, saves regularly, lives debt free, and understands God’s perspective on money and possessions.
During these unprecedented and challenging times, our objective is to disciple and encourage those that are hurting, help all who are in a place of fear move to a place of faith through God’s unchanging truth, and unleash the generosity of time, talents, and treasure of the church as a witness to the world of the hope and grace found in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
If you have feedback, financial questions or topics that you would like to see addressed in a future blog, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to serve you.